Legendary labour fighter Ed Finn, first leader of NDP in N.L., dies at 94

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Ed Finn, the first leader of the New Democratic Party in Newfoundland and Labrador, has died at 94.

Finn, a rabble-rousing union man, journalist and politician from Spaniard's Bay, spent much of his 70-year career promoting economic justice across Canada.

Finn began his career in journalism in Corner Brook, first as a printer's apprentice and then as a reporter and editor at The Western Star.

He later reported for the Montreal Gazette and wrote a regular labour column for the Toronto Star. He also served as editor of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives magazine, The Monitor, for 20 years, retiring in 2014.

He was elected to lead the NDP in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1959, and ran against incumbent Liberal premier Joey Smallwood.

Despite their later rivalry as political opponents — and a looming ideological tussle over the Newfoundland logger's strike in the late 1950s — Finn, as editor of the Western Star, spoke glowingly of Smallwood's political abilities in a 1958 interview with CBC, just months before the two would butt heads over the labour dispute.


"It was his magnetism, his hypnotic character, that attracted people," Finn said at the time. "He captured imaginations."

Finn was appointed to the Order of Canada in November for his contributions to the nation's political discourse.

A funeral home obituary places him in Ottawa at the time of his death, and says he passed away peacefully on Dec. 27.

"Throughout his lifetime, Ed never stopped advocating for social and economic justice, labour rights and equality for all," it reads.

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